Vaughan’s Vocabulary

Don Vaughan provides infrequently used words to strengthen your vocabulary.

Each week the writer of this column is devoted to teaching vocabulary building words and encouraging frequent use of them. A lexicon of advanced words is something you can carry with you for the rest of your life to help you in communicating clearly and competently. Reading comprehension and the enjoyment of reading greatly improves when vocabulary building is engaged.

I like Don John’s comment in Shakespeare’s “Much Ado about Nothing.” Leonato, governor of Messina, Italy, pays a compliment to Don John, who replies modestly, “I thank you. I am not of many words, but I thank you.”  As far as I’m concerned, the ideal person is “not of many words,” but the right words. Hopefully, the following five will be some “right words” you can use this week in your conversations and writing.

1. alacrity (uh-LACK-ri-tee)

A. a feeling of anxiety, apprehension, or insecurity

B. cheerful readiness, promptness, or willingness

C. lacking etiquette

D. a strong odor

2. brusque (BRUSK)

A. noticeably blunt to the point of being rude

B. sneaky

C. creative

D. implacable

Let’s see how you did with alacrity and brusque. A under No. 1 is a definition for the noun angst, another good vocabulary builder. Surprisingly, Peggy accepted the task with alacrity. (B) He is always brusque and to the point and no time for small talk. (A)

3. penchant (PEN-chunt)

A. a strong indication, taste, or liking for something

B. a banner

C. one whose handwriting is atrocious

D. clever

If you want to hear a sexy voice, go to, click the speaker icon and hear the announcer say “penchant.” Mrs. Malone had a penchant for cold weather. (A)

4. untoward (uhn-TORD)

A. unfavorable or unfortunate

B. improper

C. indecorous

D. All of the above

5. obsequious (uhb-SEE-kwee-us)

A. transparent, diaphanous

B. recalcitrant

C. odiously or disgustingly objectionable

D. characterized by or showing servile complaisance or deference

No. 4, untoward, is D. An example of A: Untoward circumstances caused their divorce. An example of B and C: Jeff exhibited untoward social behavior at his son’s softball game.

No. 5, obsequious, is D.

Last week’s mystery word is languishes.

This week’s mystery word to solve is a noun you can use to call a job that requires little work, but pays a salary. The only letter repeated in this eight letter word is “e.”